Woman investigated over theft of Pelosi's laptop released from jail

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Lauren Peller and Victoria Albert
·2 min read
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The woman accused by a former romantic partner of stealing Nancy Pelosi's laptop during the Capitol riot and allegedly planning to sell it to Russia was ordered released from jail under supervision on Thursday. The attorney for Riley Williams told the court that some of the accusations against her client are "overstated," and said the ex-boyfriend who reported Williams to the FBI has been abusive.

Williams surrendered to authorities in Pennsylvania on Monday, after her ex called the FBI multiple times to report having seen her in videos inside the Capitol, according to court documents.

She is facing charges of "Aid Abet Others to Embezzle, Steal, Purloin," "Obstruct, Influence or Impede any Official Proceeding," "Knowingly Entering or Remaining in any Restricted Building or Grounds Without Lawful Authority" and "Violent Entry and Disorderly Conduct on Capitol Grounds," according to the Department of Justice.

None of the charges are related to the allegation that she planned to sell the laptop to Russia — a claim which court documents say "remains under investigation."

Riley Williams shown in a photo provided in the criminal complaint.  / Credit: FBI
Riley Williams shown in a photo provided in the criminal complaint. / Credit: FBI

U.S. Magistrate Judge Martin Carlson told Williams that he was releasing her because she had no prior criminal record — but he warned her and her mother that she could be criminally charged if she does not abide by the supervision requirements. Williams' supervised release conditions include restricted travel for all purposes but the criminal proceeding, home confinement with an ankle monitor, and Williams' mother serving as a third-party custodian.

Carlson called Williams' alleged actions "antithetical" to Constitutional values. "The Constitution prevails here today," he said. "And the Constitution will always prevail in this country."

According to an amended criminal complaint filed Tuesday, Williams' former partner shared video clips with investigators that they said had been recorded or live streamed by Williams during the riot. The complaint said that in one video, a woman believed to be Williams can be heard telling a man "Dude, put on gloves," before he touched an HP laptop on a wooden desk. The complaint said Capitol police confirmed that the video was taken inside Pelosi's office, and that an HP laptop was stolen from the office that day.

Williams' attorney said during the hearing that her client has been "vilified," and said some of the allegations that are based on claims from her former partner were "overstated." She did not specify which allegations were overstated.

The attorney also said Williams was never hiding from authorities, and was instead fleeing from the abusive boyfriend who reported her to the FBI. She said the former boyfriend "threatened Ms. Williams in a number of ways," but did not elaborate.

Williams will appear in court for a preliminary hearing on January 25.

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